My Grandfather and the legacy of the Bannockburn Time Capsule

Rory MacLeod

14 Aug 2013

In June 2013, I was honoured with the chance to place something within a new time capsule buried by the National Trust for Scotland at the Rotunda monument at the Bannockburn heritage site. It was my Grandfather, Alexander Aikman, Chairman of the Grangemouth Dockyard Company, and his men, who conceived and created the first time capsule to be placed at the site in 1937.

The men at the Grangemouth shipyard were asked to create the metal topmast of the original flagpole placed at Bannockburn in the 1930s. As they made it they agreed with my Grandfather that they should include some kind of time capsule, and so it was.

I remember as a boy my Grandfather pointing to the top of the flagpole and saying there was a time capsule up there. This was discovered by the NTS as the topmast was removed for essential repairs in late 2012 as part of the Battle of Bannockburn project to restore the monuments in time for the 700th anniversary of the battle.

Some of the items from that original capsule, although badly damaged by wind and weather, have been put back in to this capsule to keep that memory alive.

As I write now, the Grangemouth Dockyard Company and the shipyard have long since gone, along with much of the once proud Scottish shipbuilding industry. Much of the yard area has been taken over by the oil refinery and ancillary businesses in Grangemouth.

It would be nice to remember some of the achievements of the “wee” shipyard at Grangemouth. The world’s first steamship, the “Charlotte Dundas”, was built at Grangemouth and would travel on the River Forth and the Forth & Clyde Canal. Later the “Comet” was built in Greenock and became the first commercial steamship and was based on the River Clyde. However, it took many years of lobbying by my grandfather and others to get the recognition for the “Charlotte Dundas” as the first.

I ask you to take a couple of minutes to spare a thought for the men, and the shipyard, who were behind the first time capsule here, and remembered in theone we have buried in 2013. I like to think that would bring a smile to those hard working men of a bygone era.


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